Pros: Stunningly simple to use despite its slew of premium features. Gear heads and tournament players will love Bushnell’s new Exchange Technology, which allows users to switch the rangefinder from a slope-and-distance device to a tournament-legal, distance-only device.

Cons: It’s fractionally larger and heavier than its competition, Leupold’s GX-4i2.

Who’s it for? If you don’t mind spending top dollar ($499) on a rangefinder, this is the one you buy. The Tour X is best for golfers who want a highly accurate, easy-to-use laser rangefinder and are interested in learning more about the way elevation changes affect their shots.

The Review

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The Tour X in Slope Mode.
  • Accuracy: 0.5 yards (0.1 yards from 5-100 yards)
  • Range: 5-1300 yards (450+ yards to a flag)
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Rainproof: Yes
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Battery Included: Yes (CR2)

Bushnell’s Tour X Jolt rangefinder is a testament to how far rangefinder design has advanced in recent years, offering golfers Bushnell’s best premium features while keeping operation as simple as possible.

The newest and most noteworthy of the Tour X’s features is its Exchange Technology, which uses removable face plates (one red, one black) to allow the rangefinder to function as a two-in-one product.

Install the red face plate, which covertly connects to a USB port on the front of the device, and the rangefinder can calculate straight-line distance to a target, as well as distance that calculates “slope,” or how far uphill or downhill a shot is “playing.” Please note that this mode does not conform to the rules of golf, but is used by many golfers — including top professionals — to learn more about the courses they play before they tee it up in tournaments.

IMG_7315
In case you need a reminder that Slope Mode doesn’t conform to the rules of golf…

If you’re a stickler for the rules, or happen to be playing in an event that allows rangefinders, simply install the black face plate to make the rangefinder conforming. Both face plates are easy to install, and lock in with a satisfying “click” that lets you know they’re secure.

From Bushnell's Tour X Jolt's product manual.
From Bushnell’s Tour X Jolt’s product manual.

For those technically inclined, below is Bushnell’s literature on how its slope mode works. Keep in mind that Bushnell has been making slope rangefinders for years, and that the Tour X is simply the first product from the company that allows users to switch between slope mode and distance-only mode.

The Slope +/-™ mode will automatically compute an angle compensated range based upon distance and slope angle determined by the laser rangefinder and built-in inclinometer. This data is then combined with internal algorithmic formulas dealing with average club use and ball trajectories. The angle compensated range provides direction on how to play the shot.

IMG_7324
The red power button is the “trigger” that activates the unit’s laser to measure yards or meters.

You don’t need to understand the algorithm to know that slope mode will work for you, however. Just ask my playing partners, who started requesting not just the actual yardage on par-3 tee boxes, but the slope yardage as well. It didn’t matter how much elevation change there was on a particular hole, either. Even on the relatively flat courses that are typical in Southeastern Michigan, the Tour X provided slope readings that highlighted shots playing just a few yards yards uphill or downhill. That’s valuable information to have — especially if you’re in between clubs.

Some people might say that level of precision is overkill, but why wouldn’t you want the most accurate possible information if you could have it? For example, I learned that many of the shots at my home course that I thought were flat were actually slightly uphill or downhill, reaffirming member suspicions that certain holes always play a little longer or shorter than the yardage.

IMG_7312
Slide the Dual Display button to the left for a black display, and to the right for a red display.

One thing that’s important to mention about the Tour X’s slope mode is how the slope measurement appears onscreen, because it’s brilliantly executed. When you depress the power button — the trigger that activates the unit’s laser — and identify your target with the aiming circle on the unit’s display, you’ll get the straight-line yardage to your target. It’s not until you release the power button that you get the slope yardage, which is shown below the original number and alternates with the amount of slope (in degrees) that was used along with the yardage to calculate the slope distance.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.25.44 PM
Image from Bushnell Golf

Another new feature is the Tour X’s Dual Display technology, which allows users to choose between a bright-red display and a less-jarring black display. I prefer the black display except in low-light conditions, which I found to be crisper and easier to read.

It should be noted that the Tour X’s red display is nowhere near as bright or as sharp as the Leupold’s GX-4i2, which is the other premium rangefinder that golfers should consider if they’re looking for a unit that measures slope and can still be configured for tournament use. If brightness is what you’re after, it’s the leader in the club house.

IMG_7319
The Tour X with its black face plate, which is legal for play in tournaments that allow rangefinders.

One of my favorite features of the rangefinder, which is a carry over from previous models, is its Jolt technology. For most golfers, it will be far more confidence inspiring than a slope reading, because it can mean the difference in 20 or 30 yards instead of 2 or 3. Jolt engages when a golfer locks onto a flag, and causes the rangefinder to buzz twice. That’s great reassurance that you’ve locked onto the correct target, and not a tree behind the green.

The Takeaway

If you’re not interested in a slope rangefinder, you don’t need the Tour X. There are more affordable options from Bushnell and its competitors that will offer a much better value. Top models include Bushnell’s Tour Z6 Jolt ($399), which is slightly smaller than Tour X, and bargain hunters will likely lean toward Bushnell’s Tour v3 ($299), which is Bushnell’s best-value rangefinder.

If you’re new to slope and interested in what it can do for your game, however, the Tour X’s Exchange Technology and premium features can justify its $499 price point. It will give you the most accurate yardages possible, along with the worthwhile features of Jolt and Dual Display without compromising ease of use.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals.

He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

11 COMMENTS

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    • We’re looking for a flag … not a hidden enemy. Gheez.

      Ysed the Tour X for 3 months. Great. And it is not as large as it seems in the pictures. It is small, have a hard time finding it in the bag pocket where it hides.

  1. I will say that when I was in college my coach had a laser that measures slope and that helped immensely in being confident in pulling the right club for the shot. It helps when you know the hole plays (+/-) 10 yards.

    • Zac,
      Can you compare this to the equivocal Leupold scope with slope function? I ended up going with the Leupold GX-4 due to slightly cheaper cost and the salesman at GS pushing me that way a little bit. I also noted battery life shorter on the Bushnell than the Leupold. Thanks!

      • It’s close, Doc Todd. Usually it comes down to personal preference, or a user placing importance on one specific feature over another, as you did battery life.

        One thing to note is that Leupold’s slope feature is customizable based on a player’s specific club distances. Most will say that Bushnell wins the ease-of-use battle, though.

  2. Yeah, but if you’re a good player, you know the necessity to know your distances and understand your gapping. Even poor golfers can eventually benefit from knowing yardage. And a good golfer in a practice round, assuming he’s not a PGA Tour professional who has already had a caddie walk out the yardages and use a rangefinder prior to the practice round, will use some method to figure out distances to hazards and key positions. I hope you don’t assume pros go out there blind.

  3. I’ll be honest, I still don’t understand the point of having slope in a range finder. If you’re a good golfer and play in tournaments you’re going to want to always practice the way you’re going to play in tournaments… without slope. If you’re not a good golfer then 1)slope is just going to confuse you and 2)you have more important issues to focus on before you worry about slope. Seems like a waste of an extra hundred dollars or more to me.

    • If you play competitively, you generally have the opportunity (like Pros) to play practice rounds. During those rounds, it’s extremely helpful to use the slope feature so that when you get into tournament play, assuming you’re hitting your shots within the same areas of your practice rounds, you will already know that you should play more or less club because of the slope factor. Even if you don’t play competitively, surely there are a few “practice” rounds where you could use it for future knowledge on several of the regular course you may play.

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